I should respond to this Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Let me begin by saying, I am not happy. This time is not joyous. This six-year ordeal came from a shoddy apology in 2008. It’s Canada backtracking. It’s this society’s idea of justice. Peace does not begin with numbers of deaths or statements that they honestly can’t tell us exactly how many died.
I can tell you who died, my family; brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles. So many of us are here due to survival of the fittest and sneakiest. We hid. We fled. We fought. I’m here and there are many more millions who are not.
Acknowledgment shouldn’t hurt. This does. This hurts my spirit. Because all this is—is a little black book with numbers. Statistics don’t change apologists or social ideas. This doesn’t change the over 2,000 missing or murdered indigenous women. This doesn’t stop me from having to post notices of missing little girls on my work’s bulletin board. This doesn’t stop abuse, racism or forced colonialism.
All the Canadian government gave me in these six years is a shrug and pity. No answers. Education? A small step. Denial does not stop with truth. Denial is a monster that roars and maims until no truth remains.
History is written by the victors. We, the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, did not win today but we survived it. Because that’s all we know, how to remain so-called civil and obedient citizens of a system that was solely built to ruin us.
Today I am not happy. But I am alive and I can feel the blood of those children in my body. I am alive and they are not. I want to remember names, faces and spirits that stood up to that residential school system. They are my heroes.
Here’s to my indigenous family. Being survivors for over 500 years. We are mountains, glaciers, and the sky. They did not kill us today. We did not give up all of us. They can’t take our culture away. The language is on your tongue, the songs are playing in your heart, our dead’s names are written on your bones, your blood is the blood of the millions forgotten, your flesh is of the regalia destroyed.
Samantha Brown is the former aboriginal representative of the Student Association of George Brown College.